The Local Recipes

How to make your own Swedish pea soup

How to make your own Swedish pea soup
The traditional Swedish pea soup. Photo: Irina/Flickr
Swedish pea soup is great comfort food for cold days, and the perfect budget option when you're short of cash after the holidays. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.


Makes: 6 portions

Time needed: 70 minutes (plus time for the peas to soak overnight)


500g (1¼ lb) dried yellow split peas

1 tbsp olive oil

2 sticks of celery (trimmed and finely diced)

2 onions (peeled and finely chopped)

½ tsp dried thyme

½ tsp dried oregano

250g (9oz) of good quality cooked smoked ham*

2 litres (8 cups) ham or chicken stock made with 3 bouilon cubes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme and/or marjoram

(*Alternatively 500g of salted pork belly or bacon, in which case brown in the pan before using, then put to one side and follow the recipe as indicated below).


1. Rinse the split peas in cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain them and put them to one side.

2. Put a large saucepan on a low heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the celery, onions, and dried herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft but not coloured.

3. Add the peas, ham, and stock and heat until simmering. Skim off any foam and simmer with the lid on for 50 minutes.

4. Use tongs to pull out the ham and move it to a board. Chop and shred it up, discarding any rind and fatty pieces. Roughly mash the peas with a potato masher, then stir in the shredded ham and the fresh thyme and/or marjoram.

5. Season the soup with salt before serving if desired.


– Swedes tend to dip their spoons into mustard before taking a mouthful of the soup. Swedish mustard is slightly sweeter and less hot than English or French mustards and complements the soup really well. A piece of knäckebröd with cheese is commonly served together with the soup as well.

– Keeping with tradition, the pea soup is also served with hot Swedish punsch (a strong liqueur with arrack) followed by pancakes with strawberry jam and cream. The soup can be quite thick, so if you’d prefer it to be more soup-like, increase the amount of stock used. Any leftovers can be reheated and enjoyed the next day without a problem. 

– Pea soup and punsch is a traditional Thursday meal at Swedish universities.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, Editor and Founder of Swedish Food

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